How Covid-19 is Affecting Startup Ecosystem in India & What Measures Can We Take To Overcome It?

Covid-19 has hit everyone hard. It all began in the wet market of Wuhan city in China, and soon it became a pandemic affecting 556,291 people from all over the world and killing around 25,239 people in 119 countries. Unfortunately, fear is still prevalent and don’t know how many more will lose their lives.

India is also seeing its effects, and 2500 people have been tested positive for Covid-19, while 55 people have died. Soon after Prime Minister announced on nationwide lockdown for 21 days to control the virus from spreading even further, not just people, but many businesses are also getting affected by it direly.

Even after making it clear that online grocery stores will remain operational, they mostly had to shut their businesses for a while amidst the lockdown announcement.

Soon after the announcement, different online grocery stores like MilkBasket and Big Basket starting sending messages to their customers that they won’t be operational for certain days, even though the Government gave a clear indication that essential services will remain operational. As per BB (Big Basket), they are constantly in touch with the authorities to figure out a way to reinitiate their business and start delivering groceries soon. The problem with these online grocery stores is that they are dependent on their suppliers.

BigBasket is a leading online grocery store, and they are operational in 20 major cities, for example, Tricity, Chandigarh, Indore, Patna, Nagpur, Surat, Delhi NCR, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and few more. As per the company until operational, they were making 160,000 deliveries daily.

As per MilkBasket, they have to dump more than 15,000 liters of milk and over 10,000 kg of fruits because their delivery agents were harassed by the local authorities, and were ordered to head back home.

Gaurav Srivastava the CFO of MilkBasket in an interview with ET CFO.com states that “There will surely be a dip in numbers post the virus led growth as it cannot continue beyond a certain point. We see the current scenario as an opportunity to showcase the convenience model and the wide range of expertise.”

Xiaomi India MD Manu Kumar Jain stated “it’s our duty to support doctors, paramedics & hospital staff!’

Apart from these two, Grofers, and Amazon Pantry has also stopped their service because of similar issues. Even though it is essential for every Indian to remain indoors in such a challenging time, these businesses that run on online orders are facing disruptive supply chain logistics.

While the whole nation fight against Covid-19, top CEOs of Indian companies are doing their bit to protect the economy. Anand Kripalu, Managing Director and CEO of Diageo India has stated “The demand for sanitizers is increasing, and we would like to use our manufacturing units to join in the effort to fill the demand-supply gap for sanitizers, so critical at this hour”.

Oyo’s Hotels founder Ritesh Agrawal is also here to help, he stated “medical first responders will receive free accommodations at any OYO Hotel in the United States so they can sleep, shower or just get off their feet and recharge.”

Looking at the current scenario, we can clearly gauge that it will take quite some time for all sorts of businesses to start running efficiently. It is indeed difficult for a business to operate amid such a crisis, but that doesn’t mean they will have to stop their business altogether.

Here are a few things that businesses in India can do to overcome the loss.

Remote Working Option

We do agree that every sector will not be able to work remotely, for example, customer service departments. However, those who do have the possibility to work remotely can ask their employees to stay home and start working just like before. There are different online free business tools, which you can think of using. These tools let you stay connected with everyone, no matter where they are.

You can implement a policy and ask them to come online at a particular time to discuss work; you can do video calling, use tools like Zoom, Skype, and more to stay connected. This way, everyone will be on the same page, and work will not get hampered.

Be Transparent To Your Customers

This is a tough time, and everyone has to work as a team. You and your team will understand what you are going through, the daily hassle of not being able to send the delivery guy to someone’s doorstep, and also the loss that you are currently facing. It is better to let your customers know about all of that. Because as per the Government, online grocery stores, or for a matter of fact, any essential store and shops will remain operational. They might not understand why you are not able to deliver their grocery.

Hence, be transparent with them, so that they don’t leave you. The more open and honest you would be with your customers, the better they would be able to trust you. 

Take Online Interviews

As no one will be able to come out of their home to sit for an interview, it is creating a gap in the hiring process. Companies need to hire people for the vacant position, and unless they interview a pool of candidates, it is going to be difficult for the organization to hire the right candidate who will generate revenue for the company.

Rather than putting a full-stop in the hiring process, companies can shift to virtual hiring. The virtual screening process will allow candidates to apply for the newly vacant position. In return, you can schedule a meeting with the candidate online, and once hired, the candidate can be asked to work from until the crisis is over.

Conclusion

There are many businesses that are suffering amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the Government is taking some bold steps to save the nation from dire consequences. Take an example of the tourism sector, not only people are banned from traveling abroad, but they are not allowed to roam intercity as well. The travel industry will, unfortunately, have to wait for some time until the Government gives the green signal.

For start-ups who are going through a rough phase, never waste a good depression. Now, is the time to plan and create strategies about what you can do once the lockdown period is over and after everything starts settling down. You can hire the best and new talents, without worrying about excessive marketing spending. Also, startups that are on their expansion paths are not getting affected much.

Knowing that now, everyone is working from home, people should learn how to manage their time. You must keep your relationship with all of your clients alive. Everyone is miscued. Instead of worrying, you can create a pipeline through digital outreach for your business, try to offer something valuable or discounts if possible, to keep your business running. Make use of digitalization to always stay in touch with your colleagues, subordinates, and peers through video and zoom calls, inform daily and communicate about what needs to be done, and create a communication chain.

This global crisis is already changing our working style, but rather than panicking; start-ups should focus more on making the best out of their resources at hand.